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“Sometimes a Great Lawsuit”: Ken Kesey, Law Libraries, and Legal Forms


This week’s Willamette Week’s story on Ken Kesey and The Screenplay (Sometimes a Great Lawsuit) is terrific – and a dream for [at least] this public law librarian who is always looking for stories that warn people about the perils of how Too Much Legal Self-Help is Not a Great Idea, especially when it comes time to drafting “agreements.”

Mr. Kesey could have dropped by his Lane County Law Library for some, uh, sample forms. Although, at that time he’d more likely have bumped into a zillion Eugene, Oregon lawyers who would been more than happy to help him draft the darn contract.

Keep in mind too, that the Lane County Law Library has been around for over 60 years!

Instead, Kesey’s widow and heirs get: Sometimes a Great Lawsuit, by Lance Kramer and Aaron Mesh.

Excerpts from:

MiSchelle McMindes and Mike Hagen piled into Hagen’s Ford Mustang and drove 325 miles west from Eastern Oregon to see Ken Kesey.

Both had high hopes as they set out from Pendleton to Kesey’s farm, about 15 minutes southeast of Eugene.
All they needed was a screenwriter, and Hagen knew just the guy—Kesey.
They came to him with the tall-but-true tale of how a Nez Percé Indian named Jackson Sundown, a popular black cowboy named George Fletcher (known in 1911 by a derogatory nickname), and a white Tennessee bronco-buster named Jonathan E. Lee Spain competed together during the 1911 Round-Up. A tale long familiar to Pendleton natives, it blended racial enlightenment far ahead of its time, Oregon lore and rodeo hijinks. They called the project Last Go Round.

By January 1984, McMindes and Hagen had what they thought was a deal with Kesey. And nine months later, they had a Kesey script.

Then things got messier than a loose bronco. …” (link to full article)

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